When Kentuckians choose their governor in November, they’ll also be deciding whether some of their neighbors can access the ballot at all in future elections.
At issue is an executive order Democratic Governor Andy Beshear issued in 2019, on his third day in office, that has restored the voting rights of at least about 180,000 people, or five percent of Kentucky’s adult population. The state constitution prohibits anyone convicted of a felony from voting for the rest of their life, but Beshear circumvented that by offering blanket restoration to most people who complete a sentence.
The fate of that order rests on the next governor’s goodwill, and each of the state’s last three governors have used their executive power to flip their predecessor’s policy on this issue. Beshear, a Democrat, is now running for re-election in this typically-red state against Republican Attorney General Daniel Cameron. Voting rights advocates are nervous that Cameron, who is running as a law-and-order type and painting Beshear as soft on crime, may reverse the current order.